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MONDAY, APRIL 19, 2010

At tea party, potential princesses get taste of Lilac Court life

The future was coming up lilacs Sunday for organizers of next month’s Armed Forces Torchlight Parade.

Thanks to a couple of Royal Tea Parties at the Davenport Hotel, there will be plenty of trained princesses for future parades.

About 475 little girls turned out in their spring finery for tea with the big girls – their mothers, grandmothers, aunts and this year’s Lilac Festival Court.

At $20 a plate, they did their part to ensure there will still be a parade when the 4- to 9-year-old girls are old enough to ride the royal float.

Seven of them won’t have to wait. They were issued tiaras and sashes Sunday after winning a raffle to ride a float in the May 8 Junior Lilac Parade.

At $2 apiece or $5 for three, the raffle tickets also helped the Spokane Lilac Festival Association rebuild a treasury that President Arne Weinman said was “near rock bottom three years ago.”

“We don’t have a lot of money in the bank, but the threat of imminent closure is gone,” Weinman said.

Including scholarships for Lilac royalty and a new endowment fund, the association is around $100,000 in the black now, Weinman said. He hopes the income-generating endowment will grow from the current $13,500 to $100,000 in 10 years.

The association is lifting its fortunes with a business plan that emphasizes fundraisers such as the tea parties, which began in 2004.

“Every nonprofit is having difficulty now,” tea party chairwoman Darla DeCristoforo said. “We have to go out and work for our money much harder.”

The theme of this year’s torchlight parade on May 15 is “Freedom Is Not Free.” Neither is the parade.

“It takes about $250,000 to put that parade down the street,” said Sandy Brown, the association vice president in charge of the parade.

She said the association looks for ways to reward donors. For example, a three-hour telethon Saturday morning included a raffle to ride a spiffy car in the parade.

Tea party participants “are getting a lot of good fun for their 20 bucks,” DeCristoforo said.

On top of snacks in an elegant dining room during two parties Sunday, the girls made pin-on buttons and beaded necklaces, got their faces painted, and donned robes, boas and tiaras to walk a purple carpet.

They lined up for photos with the Lilac Court and with four Idaho high school girls – Kelly Condon, Karen Hunt, Christina Mullaly and Joy Weadick – who were dressed as Disney characters Cinderella, Snow White, Belle and Princess Aurora.

If not for digital cameras, Kodak’s stock would have jumped 10 percent.

Chaperones seemed to have as much fun as the pint-size princesses.

Colbert grandmother Theda Ziegler had her picture taken with Cinderella for the benefit of an employee who jokingly identifies with the overworked stepchild.

If there was any complaint it was that the tea was too strong. Sugar didn’t help, 6 1/2-year-old Samantha Warren said, twisting her mouth.

“It’s not a kids’ tea,” mother Mylene Warren said.

Samantha came with her “omi,” a German word she uses for grandmother Karla Toll, who switched to coffee after trying the tea.

But the cookies were great, according to 8 1/2-year-old Paige Kubicek, who – like Samantha – insisted on credit for the half-year since her birthday.

Paige came with her mother, Krista Kubicek, and her aunt, Stacy Hendrickson. A hatmaker, Hendrickson made the white-flowered, crocheted beanie that added to what DeCristoforo described as the party’s Age of Elegance tone.

Matalin Eide, 5, spoke for many when she said meeting the high school princesses was the best part of the party.

Queen Hayley Hill and Princesses Myryda Johnson, Ellen Taylor, Meg Cressey, Jade Heidinger, Katrina Knizek and Madison Hilpert gave lessons on how to stand straight, curtsy, smile, sit, be polite, blow a kiss with two hands and do the “perfect princess wave” with a gentle figure-8 motion.

Hilpert supplemented her waving instructions with the “I See My Mom Wave,” which involves a lot of jumping up and down.

The mom wave made an impression on Stella Beadle, 5, who gave an enthusiastic demonstration. Her mom thought the lesson on sitting gracefully also was worthwhile.

“She had kind of a run-and-fling method,” mother Heidi Beadle said. “So this helped.”

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